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The college addresses such issues as: urban design, interventions within the urban fabric, public space, creative re-use of buildings, strategies for public art, interior architecture, interior design and installation art. We are not interested in pastiche, we believe in the design of buildings that make use of twenty-first century technology and are appropriate for the post-modern sensibilities of the post-industrial society.

About the Atelier

For centuries we have dwelled upon the problem of how to create controlled and conditioned environments for social relationships in buildings. We live under the same sun, shelter from the same rain, and resist buffeting from same wind as our ancestors, and yet within contemporary architecture we devote ever more resources and seek ever more complexity in solving these problems. Few people are looking hard enough at the existing simple technologies that can be applied to new and existing buildings. The college of Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture was established in 1993. It is a studio for teaching and research. It focuses upon the sustainable design of new buildings and public spaces within the historic city and interventions within existing structures.

Continuity in Architecture uses place as the starting point for every project; the students develop a proposal for a building through the analysis and translation of the particular location. Continuity in Architecture is a concept that has its roots in Contextualism. It is an approach to architecture and the design of the urban environment that uses the process of analysing and understanding the nature and the qualities of place to develop new elements.

It is our belief that an elemental approach to studying architectural technology within historic settings has never been more pressing. Our experience is that the systematic analysis of how our forbears used ready means and traditional craft techniques in the context of vibrant urban environments will lead to a rediscovery of sustainable, layered, nuanced, contextual and environmentally appropriate solutions for our time.

Projects during 2011/12

On The Industrial Ruins

Over the last forty years the western world has witnessed massive social and economic restructuring. The old heavy industries, upon which our society was constructed, have collapsed. Countries such as the UK and Spain, once the workshops of the world, are now reliant upon the new service and information-technology industries. The urban areas within these countries contain a vast wealth of memory and experience. We need humility in the face of such grandeur of industrial legacy if we are to construct new elements in these neglected areas. Within the cities of the industrial revolution a new form of spatial production is needed to invest the dying urban patterns and decaying fabric with meaning.

At this important juncture, we need to understand the nature of human interaction, the consequences of cross-disciplinary communication and experiences, and the affect that this has upon events and environments. The blurring of boundaries between different activities, subjects and the level of interaction starting to be developed between specialities means that old ideas of space, form and use are now being questioned. This means that concepts that would have sounded barmy forty years ago have become common practice. Massive advances in technology have facilitated this, and at the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, our pluralistic both/and society is now in a position to understand and take advantage of the consequences of this. The manner in which most people now operate encourages them to actively embrace mobile technology. Wireless systems mean that we are no longer constrained by cables and sockets and big, deep pieces of machinery. This will allow us to further rethink the urban, the working, and the domestic environment; environments in which technology will propose itself as the architect of our intimacies.

Buildings Outlast Civilisations

Continuity in Architecture will run two projects both in post-industrial cities. Each city has approached the problem of how to transform the unban environment to accommodate the needs of the twenty-first century population in a different manner. We will examine the qualities and character of the places before making design proposals.


It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next. (Charles Dickens, Coketown)

Blind With Love For A Language

The prospects of the Barcelonese worker remained the same throughout the nineteenth century: grinding, brutish, and without much hope of change… They lived cramped in garrets and basements, without heat or light or air. Midcentury Barcelona made Dickensian London look almost tolerable; Cerda' found that its population density was about 350 people per acre, twice that of Paris, and that workers had a living space of about ninety square feet per person. (Robert Hughes, Barcelona)

Projects during 2010/11

Argosy: Projects In Europe

An ARGOSY is a large group or fleet of vessels operating together, usually under the same command and organised for a specific tactical purpose. As used by Shakespeare (e.g King Henry VI, Part 3, Act 2, Scene VI; in the Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene III; and in The Taming of the Shrew, Act 2, Scene I), the word means a flotilla of merchant ships operating together under the same ownership. It is derived from the 16th century city Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), a major shipping power of the day and entered the language through the Italian ragusea, meaning a Ragusan ship. The word bears no relation to the ship Argo from Greek mythology (Jason and the Argonauts)

The Prodigy Of European History: Projects In Ragusa

"A hard city it remains too, to my mind, when you cross the bay and land upon its quay, beneath its high fortifications. It is very beautiful but hard. It lacks the yield or leniency of Venice. Built of a glittering and impermeable marble, enclosed within superb city walls, tilted slightly with the lie of the land and corrugated everywhere with battlements – tightly packed there within itself it has acquired non of the give-and-take of great age, but seems in a way a perfectly modern place, dogmatically planned and didactically displayed to visitors, like a model town in a trade fair." Jan Morris- The Venetian Empire

Learning From San Clemente: Projects In London

The Architect's Journal described Westminster Cathedral as a 'great religious building which, though clearly rooted in the architectural concerns of the late nineteenth century, has timeless qualities which set it apart from more commonplace works of the age.'

The Cathedral site was originally known as Bulinga Fen and formed part of the marsh around Westminster. It was reclaimed by the Benedictine monks who were the builders and owners of Westminster Abbey, and subsequently used as a market and fairground. After the reformation the land was used in turn as a maze, a pleasure garden and as a ring for bull-baiting but it remained largely waste ground. ??In the 17th century a part of the land was sold by the Abbey for the construction of a prison which was demolished and replaced by an enlarged prison complex in 1834. The site was acquired by the Catholic Church in 1884.

The Cockpit Of Europe: Projects In Flanders

Antwerp has been sought after and fought over for centuries thanks to its sheltered position on the estuary of the River Scheldt. The legacy is a patchwork of ancient and modern architecture in which baroque rubs up against art deco, while the city's blossoming contemporary face includes buildings by architects Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners and Neutelings Riedijk. The city centre is dreadful by car but wonderful on foot. The south is the cultural heartland, where the contemporary art museum M HKA (Leuvenstraat 32, and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Leopold De Waelplaats, are collaborating this autumn to present a retrospective of Anselm Kiefer (October 23 to January 23 2011). A short walk up Nationalestraat is MoMu (Nationalestraat 28,, the city's fashion museum, and north of this is the ancient city centre and the Eilandje docklands where a spectacular new city museum will open next spring.


Continuity in Architecture

Atelier Staff

Sally Stone
Atelier Leader

John Lee
Senior Lecturer

Ray Lucas
Senior Lecturer

Dominic Roberts
Associate Lecturer

Gary Colleran
Associate Lecturer

Laura Sanderson
Associate Lecturer

Continuity in Architecture Blog

The CiA blog has been in existence since 2004 and is regularly updated with ideas, projects, reports and discussions. Recent postings include: